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Old 07-14-2012, 08:57 PM   #1
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landscape Advice for South Florida

Need some advice for what to do in the front yard in Miami, Florida.

There is a big tree and grass doesn't grow under it. I tried mulch, and they washed away after a big rain storm. Stones aren't much better.

On the right side there is a concrete walkway leading to the house. Thinking of bordering the front and walkway with 4x4 or 4x6 RR ties. Any thoughts?

In order to prevent the wood from floating away when it rains, I understand I need to drill holes through the wood and pound rebars through it and the ground. Is this easy to do?

Any idea what would be good to do under that tree? Mulch? Pebbles and stones? Something else?



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Old 07-14-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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Not sure people that could be thousands of miles from can tell you what would look good to you.
Take the time to look around at other yards and come up with a plan. If it's working in someone elses yard in your area then there no reason why it would not work in your yard after taking the propper prep steps.
As far as the grass from the picture it sure looks like you have 0 top soil. You and not grow grass on a rock.
Take a sample of the soil and get it tested, that will tell you what the soil needs to grow grass.
There's plenty of grasses that gro in the shade under a tree. Triming a few limbs off would also help to get some more sun in that area.

I would not use rail road ties as a border, the reason they come up for sale is there at the end of there life span so the rail road replaced them and there already starting to rot and may aslo contain insects.
Never ever use landscape timbers, look at the tags on the end of them, it says not for below ground use. Use 4 X 4's 4 X 6's or 6 X 6's instead there all below ground rated.
Landscape timbers only come in 8' lenghts because there the core of a log left over when they peel a log to make plywood.
The other timbers can come in up to 16' lengths so there's less joints.

To install them correctly where they but together you make a cut 1/2 way through them on both pieces, on top on one and one the bottom on the other. This way they over lap, then you drill one 1/2 hole through both of them with a paddle bit then just pound in a 24" line piece of rebar.
Make sure to also do it on all the corners.


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Old 07-17-2012, 06:37 PM   #3
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I agree with the tree trimming to allow some sun to get to that area of the house. Trust me I know how that is, I live in Pembroke Pines and have the same issues. Anyway, about the landscaping. I wouldn't go with railroad ties, they rot, especially with all the rain we get. I would use a rock/brick to do the border. As it should be the slope is away from your house, so that is something that is unchangeable. I use the variegated (sp?) liriope which is nice ground cover plus they do well in all conditions. You might even considered scaling back on the border size around that tree, make a smaller border with brick, level it and plant a few liriope. Just a few thoughts. Good luck..
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:30 PM   #4
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Recycled or treated railroad ties are hideous things and are going to get harder to dispose of.

You might look into something like Border Magic or competitive companies and compare costs to some other sorts of edging. The BM (and others) process is like a curb machine scaled down for landscape applications. The machine extrudes concrete in the color and pattern of your choice in whatever shape you want. I've found it to be competitive or better priced than laying down edging piece by piece and it will not heave like individual pieces.

Rather than fight the tree, I would look into some nice and different color and textured ground covers and small shrubs, perennials or whatever. See what is native or adaptable to your climate by contacting ag extension or visiting a real, not box store, nursery. Turfgrass is extremely high maintenance and in your case it doesn't seem to add much.

Rubber mulch comes in colors including some that is hard to tell from cedar. It is more dense and does not wash away or blow around like wood mulch can.

I am not suggesting that tree does not need a good pruning for its health if no other reason.

Of course I must hype drip irrigation. Plants love it and watering in gallons per hour instead of gallons per minute and just where you want water makes sense. It is inexpensive and easy to install too.

Last edited by user1007; 07-17-2012 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

I have some ideas of what I would like to do now, which involves doing some sort of a border.

However, I have a bigger problem in that the root system of the tree is large and even around the perimeter of the rectangular area, where the driveway concrete pad and the walkway on the other side, I see a bunch of roots some sticking out an inch above, some as shallow as 1" below ground. So laying down any sort of border like stones or landscape timber makes it difficult to keep in a straight line due to the roots. I can't lay down stone that follows the ground and have it go up and down zigzaggy in the profile.

My neighbor suggested renting a trenching machine that I can run around the border, that would basically allow me to make a trench six inches or so deep and if there are roots it would basically chew them apart.

Is such a machine an option?

Will it hurt the tree by chewing up some of it's surface roots?

Will it only be a temporary solution as once I installed the stones, the tree continues to grow and exert upward pressure to lift up the tree here and there, and eventually results in the same situation?

Any other ideas on how to install borders across a line that has tree roots very close to the surface or above the surface?
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